by Chasidy Rae Sisk
“Sometimes it takes time to get people where you need them to be, to a place where they get it,” Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg acknowledged during a recent ABAT webinar as he provided an “exciting” update on responses to the SCRS blend study, which was unveiled in November 2022 and revealed that blending takes an average of 31.59 percent more time than a full refinish, instead of 50 percent less time as all three major information providers (IPs) indicated by calculating blends at 50 percent of the full refinish time.
Before diving into the recent progress made as a result of those findings, Schulenburg provided an overview of the blend study premise and all the work that went into generating credible findings for those who were unfamiliar with the blend study (if you’re one of those individuals, get caught up by reading last year’s feature on the blend study at grecopublishing.com/texas-automotive-january-2023, and check out our summary of Schulenburg’s previous update during the 2023 Texas Auto Body Trade Show at grecopublishing.com/texas-automotive-september-2023).
A couple weeks after SCRS addressed the industry with their findings during SEMA 2022, CCC/MOTOR was the first IP to respond with a commitment to conduct their own research on blending.
“They didn’t just update their system based on our research; they conducted their own research and based their system updates on their findings,” Schulenburg stressed. “This is an important fact for shops to understand and use as a talking point because an insurance company doesn’t need to believe what SCRS found during our blend study…those well-documented findings were persuasive enough that the IP re-evaluated its own studies and came to its own conclusion.”
In April, MOTOR’s update indicated agreement with the need to move away from the standard 50 percent of refinish calculations and suggested that the methodology for determining blend times should defer to the judgment of an estimator following an on-the-spot evaluation of the specific vehicle and refinish requirements in question. An update to the estimating system was promised for October 2023 to account for variations in modern vehicle paint refinishing, and language in the estimating platform now reflects those findings that call for an on-the-spot evaluation by an estimator or appraiser. Users can edit blend times on a case by case basis, or they can modify blend rules for their facility by going to settings under the main menu and navigating to “estimating blend rules” where they can adjust the standard rule to anywhere between zero and 200 percent and also enable or disable a prompt to evaluate labor time each time a blending operation is added to a repair plan.
“MOTOR and CCC came to the conclusion that an on-the-spot evaluation is necessary,” Schulenburg reiterated. “These changes are based on their decisions and are NOT the result of the SCRS blend study; that study was merely the catalyst that prompted them to re-evaluate their own information. CCC has said they support MOTOR’s decision, that this is a good outcome and accurately reflects the variation in the process.”
Referencing press releases and a helpdesk article (available at bit.ly/CCCblendhelp) issued by CCC/MOTOR, he recommended shops access and utilize such documentation during discussions with insurers if there are necessary conversations to answer why repair facilities may be billing differently.
Similarly, Audatex/Solera’s decision to re-explore blend times yielded different conclusions from their previous 50 percent determination. When they conveyed their intent to re-evaluate their findings early in 2023, they also provided an interim solution, demonstrating how end users could adjust values for blends in their system manually. Following their research, Audatex rolled out an update in October that allows repairers to define a blend as being between 50 and 150 percent “based on what’s reasonable for their business,” Schulenburg said. “It gives the end user the authority to make that decision, and it’s clearly documented on the repair plan, so shops can see if blend times cause a discrepancy when compared to the insurer’s estimate.”
Schulenburg reviewed what the updates to Solera’s system will look like, and referring to an interview with Senior Director of Product Management in Repairer Driven News, he noted that Solera had been aware of shops’ concerns with blend times for months (or possibly years) before the SCRS blend study due to the increasing complexity of paint and refinish processes related to operations needed for matte finishes, four-stage refinishing and very deep reds, all of which require significantly more labor time.
Although Mitchell indicated that it continues to “research possible changes or modifications or enhancements to our software in this area” following the July 2023 Collision Industry Conference (CIC), they did not issue any public comments in the SEMA timeframe as expected per their statement. Nor did they have a comment when contacted by trade press. Schulenburg optimistically expressed hope that they’ll have something to share by the next CIC, though he also acknowledged that “interactions with Mitchell have looked different than with the other IPs that seemed to give more credence to the SCRS blend study.”
He encouraged customers with questions for their IP to direct them to that IP.
Schulenburg also reminded everyone that SCRS creates and supports other resources to benefit shops and repairers, including the Database Enhancement Gateway (degweb.org), comprehensive health insurance (scrs.org/healthcare) and retirement savings (scrs.org/401k).
Want more? Check out the January 2024 issue of Texas Automotive!